While the Brooklyn Nets are having to cope without guard James Harden, the franchise look set to be given a boost with his return ahead of the business end of the season.

It has been a frustrating injury for both the player and the Nets, but a fit and fresh Harden for the playoffs might have long-term benefits, as Brooklyn go in search of the NBA crown this term.

Harden Suffers Setback

It’s a problematic right hamstring injury that has been at the root of the problem for the talented 31-year-old. The former Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets star last played for Brooklyn on April 5 against the New York Knicks. Harden lasted just five minutes of that encounter against the Knicks, and the Nets have been forced to battle on in his absence.

Brooklyn have been coping, and they are favourites at +240 in the latest basketball odds to win the NBA Championship outright this season. While the Nets are among the favorites to win the title, they could do with a fit and firing Harden back on the court. However, the Los Angeles-born guard has suffered a setback in his rehabilitation, with head coach Steve Nash saying “we’re back to square one”.

The setback is believed to have happened during an on-court session, and there will now be suggestions the player was rushed back through his protocols too soon. Whatever the goings on behind the scenes, it’s frustrating news for the Nets fans, who will be desperate to see one of their latest arrivals back in the thick of the action.

A Promising Start

It was certainly a bright start for Harden to his Brooklyn career before this injury blow against the Knicks. The nine-time All-Star was averaging 25.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 11 assists in 34 games, after making the switch from the Rockets to the Nets in the early season. Brooklyn have been unfortunate on the injury front, as fellow stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving have also endured time off court.

Getting the ‘Big Three’ all together on the same court seems to be a juggling act that Brooklyn have been forced to play this season. While the team is having to toil with some of their big names missing, Nash would likely prefer to deal with this situation now, rather than in the heat of playoff basketball.

Irving was the man who was forced to step up in the absence of both Harden and Durant in a 134-129 win over the New Orleans Pelicans, which kept Brooklyn battling at the top end of the Eastern Conference. It’s a testament to the Nets roster that they have been able to keep winning games without key personnel, and it’s something that will give Nash hope towards the business end of the season.

There is no doubting though the lift Harden will give the Nets upon his return, as Brooklyn go in search of their first NBA Championship title.